How Building your Positivity Currency Makes you a Better Leader

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Are you sick of joy-germ folk telling you to think positively when you are stressed and overloaded?

They are right. 

It is not about ignoring or denying negative times and feelings. But knowing when your feelings are your friends or your foe. AND knowing that your thoughts will drive those feelings. 

There will inevitably be ups and downs in your working life – but it’s how you deal with the downs that can prove the real test. Do you get locked in a narrowed mindset of negativity? Or are you able to react positively in challenging circumstances, helping yourself and those around you to find a way through? 

Positive emotions fuel resources for our resilience, priming our mindset for success and enabling us to bounce back from setbacks. Click To Tweet

And the greater your positivity currency the better able you are to respond to the daily challenges inherent in a leadership role.

Why we need to listen to those ‘think positively’ Pollyannas. 

Being positive pays off. As Barbara Frederickson’s work shows, flourishing individuals, marriages and teams have a positivity ratio of 3:1. It’s contagious too: your positivity brings out a positive attitude in others so it has a compounding effect on your teams and your colleagues. 

This is not a fixed-smile, annoying, unrelentingly perky positivity, but rather a structured, research based approach to building resilience – to have you thriving not just surviving. 

Feeding your positivity feeds your wellbeing 

Neuroscience tells us that stress is the perception of a need that is not going to be met. Think about that. It’s the perception that is causing the stress. And if you can change your perception, you can affect the stress. 

Now, you can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you view and respond to these events. Stop and think:  

  • Is it the event itself you are reacting to, both emotionally and behaviourally? 


  • Is it your view of the event rather than the event itself that largely determines your reaction?

The first approach assumes you’re a passive recipient of whatever happens to you; you’re trapped by events. The second encourages you to take personal responsibility for how you think and feel, and unlocks your options. 

As Michael Neill in his book Supercoach says: “We live in the feeling of our thinking… Every feeling you experience is the shadow of a thought, not a reflection of the world around you. You’re living in the feeling of your thinking, not the feeling of your circumstances.”

Do you know your thinking traps? 

Just because you think something, doesn’t make it true. In fact, our thoughts can often be exaggerated and biased. These ‘cognitive biases’ are in us all but we need to be aware of them so we can manage them and their impact on our mood, our lives and those around us.

Here are just a few:

  • All-or-nothing thinking – he didn’t get me that report by the end of today,  he is completely unreliable 
  • Overgeneralising – She always…I never…He constantly
  • Catastrophising – I forgot to send that email, he will tell my boss, I won’t get that promotion and won’t be able to pay the mortgage 
  • Personalising – if he hadn’t introduced me like that I would have been able to present fantastically  
  • Filtering out the positive – that promotion doesn’t count because I just happened to be there at the time

Any of the above sound familiar? We all have our favourite ‘go-to’ thinking traps but we need to challenge those thinking habits that don’t serve us well. And our negativity bias is a biggy. When things get tough and we feel under threat it can really kick in. This can lead to our spending much of our energy regretting the past and being anxious about the future and not dealing confidently with today. 

Would you talk to anyone else like that?

For a start, consider the conversation you are having with yourself. Often, it’s a negative, critical voice, undermining us with unfavourable comparisons and forecasting failure. 

That means that at times of stress our mind can be on our case instead of being on our side. If someone else said those things to you it would be bad enough so why would you say them to yourself?!

It’s easy to become oblivious to the negative messages you’re giving yourself, but you need to be intentional about creating that safe place inside your head. Click To Tweet

Here’s how to build your positivity currency 

We have to regularly work on being positive. Like all things that make a difference to our every day it takes practice. To build your positivity currency ensure you can tick a few of these boxes every day.

  • Think about what’s going right for you right now, what’s the best thing that happened today.
  • Cultivate kindness, purposefully spend a morning a week actively being kind, to strangers, to your family, to yourself, to your team
  • Create high-quality connections, when things get tough don’t cut yourself off, seek out your tribe 
  • Practise mindfulness, if meditation isn’t your thing just walk to work slower and more consciously, look out the window of the bus and observe the season, savour the moment
  • Ritualise gratitude, several times a week actively list the things you are grateful for
  • Understand and focus on your strengths, ensure you know what they are and are working on building them 
  • Learn to dispute your negative thinking. Literally. When you hear that critical voice, write down what it is saying and refute it out loud. 
  • Remember the 3:1 positivity ratio every day.

So, don’t let your day create your mood; get your mood to create your day. Taking a positive approach and working on your positivity opens up possibilities, it helps you flourish and helps foster a more positive workplace where you can be a role model for great leadership. 

Don’t just THINK positively, BE positive. You will energise yourself and those around you while constantly filling your tank to be the leader you aspire to be. Click To Tweet

You might be interested in my podcast episode with Gladys Ngetich on persistence and positivity. Click here to listen.

As always thanks for reading this and sharing it. Feel free to read more on my blog page.

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